Home > Resolving Issues > Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 6 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Boundary Dispute Trees Fence

We often hear about boundary disputes between neighbours, and it’s a very contentious area which is often the subject of litigation.

What is a Boundary and How is it Defined?

A boundary between your property and your neighbours (or indeed council and common land) is usually set out in the earliest conveyance deed or transfer deed that refers to the land. If you own the house, you should have been given a copy of the deeds when you bought the property.

The deeds show the boundaries of the land that the person who sold the property to you was intending to sell. The description could be written into the deeds, or most usually described by a visual plan of the land.

Sometimes the plan and the wording of the deeds might differ, but this problem can usually be resolved. Reading the deeds and looking at the plan will give you an indication of which takes precedence, and if it’s not obvious, a solicitor can usually help.

If either the conveyance plan or the words in the deed are obviously inaccurate, this can cause problems, too. If you have any questions, a solicitor can usually help, although in some cases these cases have to be resolved in court.

Establishing Rights Over Hedges and Fences can often be the source of bad feeling between otherwise friendly neighbours.

Can I Paint my Neighbours Fence?

If you want to change anything about a fence that legally belongs to your neighbour, you should ask their permission first – even if you’re only painting or staining your side of the fence.

Your neighbour is perfectly within his or her rights to tell you that he doesn’t want you to paint the fence, even if in your opinion in sorely needs some tidying up. It could be classed as criminal damage if you were to carry on regardless.

Can I Force My Neighbour to repair a Damaged Fence?

Not usually, unless there is some kind of covenant on his property that forces the issue. If the state of his fence is bothering you or causing security issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t erect a fence of your own next to it.

You could offer to pay for the repairs yourself, if the neighbour simply can’t afford the repairs. If you do this, be sure to put the offer in writing and say that fence is a gift which doesn’t affect the boundary position at all. Keep a copy of your letter with the title deeds, to avoid any boundary confusion in the future.

If you put your own fence up on your own land, you need to be careful not to damage any of your neighbour's property, and make sure it fits in with all the relevant planning permission and byelaws.

Overhanging Trees

Another contentious area between neighbours is the problem of overhanging trees and Ascertaining Your Rights. What seemed like an average sized tree when you moved in could become a nuisance if it grows tall enough to block out your light, and this could mean that you have problems with your own garden as well as reducing the light in the house. You can’t do much about it until the trees start to encroach onto your land, though.

What to Do About Nuisance Trees

If the branches or roots of your neighbour's trees are starting to encroach onto your own land, you are allowed to trim them back to your own boundary.

You don’t have to tell your neighbour that you’re doing this, although you do have to tell them if you need to gain Access To Their Land. Contrary to popular belief, you can also trim a tree that’s subject to a preservation order, although you should get permission from your local authority first.

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Hi We bought our house a year ago. Replaced fence panels all around the house. Our neighbours neighbouring with our fence side told us now that they want the fence straightened out as the previous owner had it placed around some existing sheds which means it's slightly crooket at one place. We are talking about a couple of inches apparently over their boundary.... We are happy to straighten it although our concern is that they have paved up to the fence which means we will have to dig through the paved area to straighten it...who should rectify this for them if they request this fence to be straighten? Thanks
Lfw - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:12 PM
greg001 - Your Question:
3 years ago I bought house, two weeks after moving I received letter from my neighbour that wall dividing our lands is his and I can't attach nothing on his wall. Between my property wall and his wall is 1.7m gap. So I installed there shed. 7 months ago I replaced old shed for new one. And I received again letter from neighbour that I should install gutters. Gutters was installed immediately. In this case I replayed to him that his wall is leaning on my site. then he started blame me that is my sheds fault, because my shed didn't have water disposal and I need fix his wall. But my sheds had gutters and water disposal. Water disposal was targeted into my property wall 1.5m from his wall. Also I have photo,taken when I moved, that showing leaning wall. Do I need fix his wall?

Our Response:
No, it doesn't sound like it. Ask him for an "expert" report on the reasons for the wall leaning and then you can make an informed decision.
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Apr-17 @ 12:40 PM
3 years ago I bought house, two weeks after moving I received letter from my neighbour that wall dividing our lands is his and I can't attach nothing on his wall. Between my property wall and his wall is 1.7m gap. So I installed there shed. 7 months ago I replaced old shed for new one. And I received again letter from neighbour that I should install gutters. Gutters was installed immediately. In this case I replayed to him that his wall is leaning on my site. then he started blame me that is my sheds fault, because my shed didn't have water disposal and I need fix his wall. But my sheds had gutters and water disposal. Water disposal was targeted into my property wall 1.5m from his wall. Also I have photo,taken when I moved, that showing leaning wall. Do I need fix his wall?
greg001 - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:43 PM
Stacey - Your Question:
I bought a house last year. The bottom end of my driveway is shared access with neighbour. The neighbour has a very small drive. They have block paved in a curved line over my driveway. This was done before I bought my house. And they told my solicitor this was to make there drive aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I want to have my drive redone can I make them take their block paving up to give me back my drive and reinstate the visual boundary. Also they moan at me for parking on my drive as it makes it difficult for them to get off there drive but it is actually there van that is blocking them in not my car. They just want to drive over the end of my driveway to get off there drive instead of moving there own van

Our Response:
If it's a shared access driveway at the end, neither of you should be parking there anyway. With regards the part where you can park you should discuss this with your neighbour. If they have already agreed that they have paved over the boundary, what did the solicitor say about future works to either driveway? We're presuming you asked about something as obvious as this at the time.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Mar-17 @ 2:30 PM
I bought a house last year. The bottom end of my driveway is shared access with neighbour. The neighbour has a very small drive. They have block paved in a curved line over my driveway. This was done before I bought my house. And they told my solicitor this was to make there drive aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I want to have my drive redone can I make them take their block paving up to give me back my drive and reinstate the visual boundary. Also they moan at me for parking on my drive as it makes it difficult for them to get off there drive but it is actually there van that is blocking them in not my car. They just want to drive over the end of my driveway to get off there drive instead of moving there own van
Stacey - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:04 PM
I live and own a middle terrace house of three, i have an access path that goes from my bottom of garden all the way round to the front of my neighbours house and to the street owned path, there is a side gate we both have access too but its all my land, The path at the front my neighbours bought a big van and often park it on my path, could i errect a fence and a another gate here to still give them access to their garden but stop them parking and driving on the path? They have a drive of their own which fits 2 cars. They are not neighbours i can speak with an have an adult conversation with
gemfairy - 8-Jan-17 @ 11:29 PM
I have a pice of land which majure in 2 and 3times before 20years. But our neighbour claim for him that his land part in my field. Few days measure an Amin this field and Find a peace of field in our boundry line. So i wish that you give me a real advise that what am i donig.
giri - 2-Jan-17 @ 2:03 PM
I live in a terraced house and our next door neighbour has put up lights on the side of our garge which faces his house. He siad that wall faceing his house is his. Is this correct?
Fey - 30-Dec-16 @ 7:17 PM
My neighbours have been a nightmare since day 1....we live in a semi detached house and our neighbours have recently put up a sort of tube if xmas lights wrapped right around our shared fence between both houses....the lights are very annoying as they are flashing lights that come through my window when i am trying to watch my telly it is very irritating could someone tell me if i have the right to go and take them down myself and also if they by law were supposed to check with me first before putting them up
Toot - 6-Dec-16 @ 9:47 PM
can I remove the fence from shared drive which I put up 15 years ago (more on my side) without telling the neighbour who has only been there 5 years
maz - 4-Dec-16 @ 4:59 PM
I live in a semi detached house with the front door on the side, facing my neighbours front door. In the 18 months I've lived here the neighbour has always been unpleasant.A few weeks ago I had some minor work done and the neighbour had a row with the builder over him putting some materials on his side for a short while. The next day the neighbour started erecting a prison style fence down the shared path.This wouldn't be a problem, if my house didn't have a small porch, erected long before I moved in. Consequently in parts our side of the path is only 20cm's wide.Far too narrow to get a buggy or wheelchair down, never mind have white goods delivered.On top of this my son has medical needs that means he sometimes needs an ambulance to be called. I tried talking to the neighbour but he was extremely hostile and wouldn't listen to reason.Neighbour insists the path is not shared but it has been shared for over a 100 years.Title deeds are very hard to fathom out. I'm assuming my only option now is to go down the legal route. Does it sound likely he would be forced to take down the fence?
Skittle - 25-Nov-16 @ 10:05 PM
I live in a semi detached house with the front door on the side, facing my neighbours front door. In the 18 months I've lived here the neighbour has always been unpleasant.A few weeks ago I had some minor work done and the neighbour had a row with the builder over him putting some materials on his side for a short while. The next day the neighbour started erecting a prison style fence down the shared path.This wouldn't be a problem, if my house didn't have a small porch, erected long before I moved in. Consequently in parts our side of the path is only 20cm's wide.Far too narrow to get a buggy or wheelchair down, never mind have white goods delivered.On top of this my son has medical needs that means he sometimes needs an ambulance to be called. I tried talking to the neighbour but he was extremely hostile and wouldn't listen to reason.Neighbour insists the path is not shared but it has been shared for over a 100 years.Title deeds are very hard to fathom out. I'm assuming my only option now is to go down the legal route. Does it sound likely he would be forced to take down the fence?
Skittle - 25-Nov-16 @ 9:32 PM
We have a shared stone built boundary wall which was very and completely overrun with ivy which hasn't been managed for many years. The ivy was making the border of our garden unusable and choking trees in this border. We removed the ivy from our side of the border to reveal a lovely wall which was being very badly damaged by the ivy. The wall is now significantly lower and causes us security and privacy issues that can be resolved by the erection of a fence fitted to the top of the wall - at our cost and will be of good quality. Our neighbour is saying that we can't do this due to damage and appearance to wall - laughable because the ivy was way more damaging and his garden is an eyesore and house/garage in poor repair. He has said that we can attach the fence to our half of the wall. Is this correct and are there any ways in which we can ensure he has no comeback on our erecting the fence? What is best way to proceed????
Deb - 13-Nov-16 @ 10:24 AM
joe - Your Question:
My neighbour has built a new front garden wall that doesn't match all the existing walls in the street. Its a completely different brick and design.

Our Response:
Are there any conditions attached to your houses in your deeds or stipulated by the local council (planning dept)? If not, then there's not much you can do about this we're afraid.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Nov-16 @ 10:33 AM
My neighbour has built a new front garden wall that doesn't match all the existing walls in the street.Its a completely different brick and design.
joe - 9-Nov-16 @ 1:04 PM
songbird - Your Question:
We have a driveway it has been our driveway for over 40 years, now the new neighbour who just bought the house next door to us, says he owns four feet of our driveway and is threatening to put a fence down the middle of the driveway which we would not have a driveway anymore. He also has his own driveway. On the deed it says the property line is down the centre of our driveway. we have always taken care of our driveway and it has never been an issue before. Is there a law for grandfathering, because it has been that way for as long as the house has been here since 1926 it has always been our house's driveway,. We think we should go to court and fight it what do you think. Also he came over to our house and said if we pay him $400.00 a year he will forget ab out taking our driveway so basically bribing us

Our Response:
We assume you are not based in the UK, so cannot really give you any relevant advice on this. You shouldconsult an employment lawyer for advice.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Nov-16 @ 12:57 PM
Our neighbours asked for permission to use our lane which runs alongside their garden to maintain their sespit. This involved digging it out with a digger. We gave permission for them to do this and the job has taken about a week to do. The lane was a grass lane and so is the entrance to the lane. The part of the lane that they used and the entrance to the lane has been churned up by the digger. The lane will be unuseable when the bad weather comes. We do only normally use it in the summer if we need to. They have flattened out the lane but have left it in a bit of a state. If the lane and entrance has been damaged surely it is their responsibility to put it back as was is this correct.
Scotty - 7-Nov-16 @ 3:56 PM
We have a large hedge in outlet front garden that is dead our side but is fine on neighbours side, we have looked at the deeds and it shows it's their side how ever the hedge has been planted in ourside and the is a small green wire fence behind it. Next door will only let us remove the hedge if we agree to put up a 6ft fence... do we have to or can we just remove this hedge as technically it's our side...
Privateoxo - 7-Nov-16 @ 12:49 PM
We have a driveway it has been our driveway for over 40 years, now the new neighbour who just bought the house next door to us, says he owns four feet of our driveway and is threatening to put a fence down the middle of the driveway which we would not have a driveway anymore.He also has his own driveway.On the deed it says the property line is down the centre of our driveway.we have always taken care of our driveway and it has never been an issue before.Is there a law for grandfathering, because it has been that way for as long as the house has been here since 1926 it has always been our house's driveway,.We think we should go to court and fight it what do you think.Also he came over to our house and said if we pay him $400.00 a year he will forget ab out taking our driveway so basically bribing us
songbird - 7-Nov-16 @ 4:04 AM
Duh - Your Question:
Some land grabbers are attempting to build a fence through a section of my land. They are attemting to take a portion of my neighbours land (who disappeared many years ago) but also a section of my land with it as it gives them better access. I've chased them off in the past but they continue to attempt to erect the fence. They have in their heads that the land is theirs to take and that they can dictate where my boundary runs even though it has nothing to do with them as they have no ownership of either side of this boundary.The police say if they do manage to get the fence up, there's nothing I can do. It can't be touched and civil trespass laws don't seem to protect the land owner.Any similair experiences or advice?

Our Response:
You should seek legal advice on this as you could take court action for trespass and damage to your property.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Nov-16 @ 10:48 AM
Some land grabbers are attempting to build a fence through a section of my land. They are attemting to take a portion of my neighbours land (who disappeared many years ago) but also a section of my land with it as it gives them better access. I've chased them off in the past but they continue to attempt to erect the fence. They have in their heads that the land is theirs to take and that they can dictate where my boundary runs even though it has nothing to do with them as they have no ownership of either side of this boundary. The police say if they do manage to get the fence up, there's nothing I can do. It can't be touched and civil trespass laws don't seem to protect the land owner. Any similair experiences or advice?
Duh - 1-Nov-16 @ 3:39 PM
Ratty ; As the roof light is side facing he may have planning issues of overlooking subject to the internal height of the glass and whether the glass is obscured or not, and openable or not :i.e, not less than 1.7m above his finished floor level. Additionally unless the glass is fire rated you may have redress under the building regulations due to its proximity to your boundary. The builder had no rights to enter(on your roof) your property for new works to be carried out, any damage is at their costs. Access only applies to existing works for repair and or maintenance by agreement, that agreement not being unreasonably withheld (damage to your property: as tiles are fragile, and a roofer would know that, he should have made provisions against it, or that could be criminal damage. (He could have knowingly failed to take due care ). As to anything placed upon your property, given a clear boundary, is a nuisance and may , I think , be removed by you and placed back on their land. If you damage the property accidentally in doing so, it is not criminal damage. But anything like this that could cause an 'action' against you needs the formal opinion of a solicitor or legal advisor.
Pete - 29-Oct-16 @ 3:23 PM
ratty - Your Question:
My neighbours have just had a new rooflight fitted just about a foot from the joint boundarry of the roof,they did not ask permision or inform me this was happening and the roofer took up and refitted and cut some of my tiles ,he informed me he could go one metre onto my property.They have also placed a plant pot within my boundary which is shown on my deeds,it is on a block paved angled area to access there parking space,this and other plant pots are also on the parking area it up to the boundary of the following property.i do not speak to them as they are not nice people what can I do

Our Response:
If the rooflight is well into their side of the boundary (which is sounds like it is) then there's not much you can do. If the builder has done some damage you should consult your insurer or claim compensation via the small claims courts. Regarding the plant pot...if it's causing you a problem, send a copy of the deed plans with a polite note saying the pot's on your side and could they move it. If they don't and you're absolutely sure it's on your property, you could always move it back yourself.
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Oct-16 @ 1:54 PM
Bambers - Your Question:
We believe our boundaries are jointly shared and we have always treated them this way replacing fence panels equally and the like. However, our neighbour approached us a few months ago to replace the fence so that he could block pave his drive. We agreed to him taking out the fence panels and concrete posts and then replacing them with new concrete posts and new fence panels which he said he would pay for. He had a dispute with the builder he used and now he has got someone else he has changed his mind about what he wants to do. He said instead of having two concrete panels on top of one another he wanted to build a small wall on his property with one concrete panel on top for the posts to go back on to as his drive slopes down and our property is much higher and then was putting the fence posts back and the new fence panels. We agreed to this but have since found out that he is now only building a wall sloping down and not replacing the fence panels or posts. What can we do?

Our Response:
Establish from your deeds who really is responsible. If it's joint responsibility and you agreed to certain type of fence then he should stick with this. If not, and turns out to bethe neighbour's fence then he can do as he likes really. In that case, you can put up your own fence or planting on your side if you want the extra height.
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Oct-16 @ 2:26 PM
my neighbours have just had a new rooflight fitted just about a foot from the joint boundarry of the roof,they did not ask permision or inform me this was happening and the roofer took up and refitted and cut some of my tiles ,he informed me he could go one metre onto my property . They have also placed a plant pot within my boundarywhich is shown on my deeds,it is on a block paved angled area to accessthere parking space,this and other plant pots are also on the parking area it up to the boundary of the following property. i do not speak to them as they are not nice people what can i do
ratty - 27-Oct-16 @ 9:40 AM
We believe our boundaries are jointly shared and we have always treated them this way replacing fence panels equally and the like. However, our neighbour approached us a few months ago to replace the fence so that he could block pave his drive. We agreed to him taking out the fence panels and concrete posts and then replacing them with new concrete posts and new fence panels which he said he would pay for. He had a dispute with the builder he used and now he has got someone else he has changed his mind about what he wants to do. He said instead of having two concrete panels on top of one another he wanted to build a small wall on his property with one concrete panel on top for the posts to go back on to as his drive slopes down and our property is much higher and then was putting the fence posts back and the new fence panels. We agreed to this but have since found out that he is now only building a wall sloping down and not replacing the fence panels or posts. What can we do?
Bambers - 26-Oct-16 @ 2:18 PM
markc - Your Question:
Hi,My neighbour and I have both built new rear extensions which has taken away the boundary between our properties. He is now claiming that it is a party fence and therefore the fence post would sit half on our property half on his, however this doesn't match the boundary line of the garden and will involve him putting a concrete post on top of the small wall we've built up to the party line.However, in our row of houses, the precedent is for each house to own one fence and therefore to have the posts entirely on their property.Can I force him not to build it on our side and simply build it in the logical place against our wall?

Our Response:
You should check your deeds first of all. The fence/boundary may be mentioned and also indicated on a plan (although these are not always accurate)
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Oct-16 @ 10:36 AM
Hi, My neighbour and I have both built new rear extensions which has taken away the boundary between our properties. He is now claiming that it is a party fence and therefore the fence post would sit half on our property half on his, however this doesn't match the boundary line of the garden and will involve him putting a concrete post on top of the small wall we've built up to the party line... However, in our row of houses, the precedent is for each house to own one fence and therefore to have the posts entirely on their property. Can I force him not to build it on our side and simply build it in the logical place against our wall?
markc - 20-Oct-16 @ 2:31 PM
Chickie - Your Question:
My neighbour is storing her bins and building materials on land within my boundary. I have asked her to remove the items. But she has ignored my requests. What can I do about this?

Our Response:
If the items are definitely on your land, you are entitled to remove them. Firstly - it might be worth erecting something that will prevent this happening - such as a fence. If this is not possible (e.g your gardens are open plan under covenant), then you can remove them. First write an informal note requesting that she removes the items and no longer places them on your property. Then send a follow-up letter, stating that you will return any items found on your land. If that doesn't work advise her by letter again that you intend to dispose of any items found on your land. You can contact the council and report it as fly-tipping if it carries on.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-Oct-16 @ 1:52 PM
My neighbour is storing her bins and building materials on land within my boundary. I have asked her to remove the items. But she has ignored my requests. What can I do about this?
Chickie - 17-Oct-16 @ 1:59 PM
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